My Words Fly Up

Less Can Be More

I overwrite at times. I don’t mean long phrase-upon-phrase, clause-upon-clause, description-upon-description sentences as, say, Virginia Woolf does. If I were capable of writing sentences like this from Mrs. Dalloway— The British middle classes sitting sideways on the tops of omnibuses with parcels and umbrellas, yes, even furs on a day like this, were, she thought,

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Hollywood Does It Again

I wrote a post a few months ago about how a children’s movie used an important plotting technique—that is, when a protagonist solves one problem, she or he should be confronted by a worse problem. Now advice from a documentary filmmaker, whose mother is a student of mine. Ginny was frustrated with the plotting of

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One More about Practicing

Billy Joel was giving a master’s class at Vanderbilt University a few months ago. When a student asked Mr. Joel if he could accompany him on the piano, Mr. Joel said, “Okay.” (He discusses the experience briefly in this interview.) As you listen to the performance, you cannot doubt that the young man spends an

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Thirty Days

Further on the subject of practice. It may not necessarily make perfect (although a cat practicing the art of sleeping does appear to reach perfection), but practice does make better. And more practice makes better faster. That was, more or less, my daughter’s conclusion after completing an assignment for her high-school sociology class, which required

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Back to Beginnings

As I wrote earlier, I sometimes begin a new session of classes with a lesson I call Beginnings. And so I did again with the new winter class in Newburyport. Rather than going to the local bookstore to look for terrific openings, I checked books that either I, my son, or my daughter own. I

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Be Social


In which I blog about the days I write and the days I don’t write; about teaching about writing; about reading (which is never enough); and occasionally about music, because sometimes a three-minute song can tell as good a story as a novel.

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